Architecture + Design
Building a Green Future
Sachin Rastogi holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture New Delhi, graduating in 2006. At the postgraduate level, he completed his Masters in Science program in Sustainable Environmental Design from Architectural Association ( AA) School of Architecture, London in 2008. At AA, Sachin’s key research interests were passive and low energy solutions for high- rise residential buildings in a composite climate which would act as a typology to improve the energy efficiency of the existing buildings and can be adopted by most architects during the course of their design. These concerns were also central to his research on Lightweight Facades - A solution for buildings in hot climate along with a written paper titled “Water as Thermal Mass”.
The built environment is responsible for a considerable portion of the causes of climate change and biodiversity loss– contributing almost as much as 39% of the carbon emissions produced globally. In our efforts to fight against climate change and lower our carbon footprint as individuals, there is an imminent need to embrace sustainability through a holistic lens.
Sustainability is not an added construct; it is a way of living. When it comes to enabling sustainable lifestyles, the role of architecture and design that prioritises energy- efficiency assumes immense significance. An energy- efficient building does not compromise on user comfort; in fact, it is all about limiting energy consumption to a minimum, while ensuring maximum thermal comfort, user productivity and well- being. Further, affordability is an intrinsic function of the design process. A ‘ near net- zero building’ ( built to minimise net energy and striving to be net- zero) does not need to be expensive to construct and run; such a building is designed to work with its climate and context. It relies on the use of locally- available materials, which are affordable, and can employ simple architectural interventions such as cavity walls and doubleglazed windows. It may also operate on systems that harness renewable resources ( which can have higher initial costs, but are easily offset with the energy savings over time), such as installing PV panels on the roofs. Sustainable architecture seeks to minimise negative impact on the environment, while promoting healthy living and comfort for the occupants, thereby improving building performance. Fundamentally, it calls for designing in tune with nature, site and climate. In present times, there is a need to stay away from enclosed spaces and inhabiting more open, semi- permeable spaces that blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor environments.
User- centric designs— those that support the needs and health of occupants and reject unnecessary ornament and aesthetic concerns— are now becoming more relevant than ever.
Additionally, the role of transitional spaces in providing comfort and security should not be understated; common areas within most contemporary buildings need to borrow from the Indian vernacular; courtyards, for instance provide shade, lower temperature, enable air circulation and bring in ample daylight, reducing dependence on artificial lighting and air- conditioning. By studying and analysing architectural elements such as ‘ jaalis’ and
‘ jharokhas’, materials used for climate- proofing, the scales of various spaces, and the interaction of spaces with the landscape, we can rearrange
and reinterpret them in today’s context.
Moving forward, we need to redefine human comfort with the idea of adaptive comfort– the principle that people experience indoor conditions differently and adapt physiologically to restore levels of comfort. Within the Indian subcontinent, this can be achieved through double- skin facades, passive design strategies and architectural devices that increase the rate of fresh air exchange.
Technologies such as Building Information Modelling ( BIM) and Artificial Intelligence have opened up avenues for maintaining productive workflows while minimizing physical contact through digital walls, automation in terms of controlling lighting and ventilation through a contactless system, and using AR and VR technologies for site visits and project demonstrations. Digitalisation has widened our understanding of space and also provides fresh impetus to architects to analyse a building’s environmental impact, carbon footprint, and energy consumption— allowing us to view sustainability through a critical lens.
role of transitional spaces in providing comfort and security should not be understated; common areas within most contemporary buildings need to borrow from the Indian vernacular; courtyards, for instance provide shade, lower temperature, enable air circulation and bring in ample daylight, reducing dependence on artificial lighting and air- conditioning.